After the third session of a public hearing on Orange & Rockland’s (O&R) , the Clarkstown Planning Board voted unanimously to request a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Robert Geneslaw, planning consultant for the town, said the supplemental EIS would deal with newly identified issues that had been raised by members of the community.
O&R’s attorneys and engineers said they felt the questions raised by the public had been addressed and asked that they be allowed to prepare a Final EIS instead. Attorney Anthony Montalbano said they had spoken with United Water and the New City fire officials. The board’s experts and members opposed that request.
“There’s an enormous amount of new material both verbal and printed that’s been provided,” said Geneslaw, adding that public health issues and emergency services were not adequately addressed in the DEIS.
Planning Board Chair Shirley Thormann said, “I haven’t heard anywhere if there is an accident how the medical personnel could get in.”
Planning Board Member Mary Jane O’Connor noted, “ I would like a medical opinion. We do not have a medical expert on this board.”
Geneslaw provided three options for the board. In addition to the supplemental EIS they voted for, they had the options of a new DEIS that would incorporate the new information or a final DEIS.
Dozens of New City residents from South Mountain Road, Roberts Road and Lake Lucille attended the public hearing. They shared their concerns about potential fires, electromagnetic forces (EMF) emissions, decreased property values and provided a report from experts on the EMF levels being emitted by the currently substation and the proposed expanded facility. Several noted the limited number of nearby fire hydrants.
“We are looking at seeing if we can get a hydrant closer to the facility,” said John Coffey, chief engineer for O&R.
Terri Thal read a statement prepared by Marvin Baum, which raised the question of whether the substation would be responsible for providing the power for the proposed United Water Hudson River desalination plant in Haverstraw.
Martin Fiel, a resident of New City for 40 years asked, “Point blank is this a hazard to the residents?”
Morton Leifer, electronic communication specialist for the town, said he measured the milligauss levels. He started under the distribution lines where the reading was the highest and the amount decreased as he moved away but increased again as he got closer to homes which use electrical appliances.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day, who represents New City, spoke about his concerns after the public hearing.
"Beyond the obvious issue of whether or not the proposed location is either appropriate or necessary as part of a residential community, is the compelling public safety matter of whether or not the community can be protected should a critical event occur, and whether our first responders will even have the tools needed to do so,” said Day. “Lacking further detail, and as a former law enforcement commander, I have tremendous concerns for the safety of my community should the substation be expanded."
The public hearing was closed however the record is open for 10 days to allow the public to submit additional comments. O&R is expected to submit its draft scoping document within the next week so it can be discussed at the board’s June 27 meeting. Geneslaw explained the scoping document as an enhanced table of contents.
O&R wants to construct a new electrical substation and upgrade an existing gas regulator on 10.2 acres at the corner of North Little Tor Road and South Mountain Road in New City. The site currently houses an electrical substation and a temporary mobile power source to provide service for customers affected by the reconstruction of New Hempstead Road.